Regis Laconi has dominated both Superpole sessions of the World Superbike Championship thus far, but has only one victory to show for his blistering pace… will he dominate at Misano?
Regis Laconi has dominated both Superpole sessions of the World Superbike Championship thus far, but has only one victory to show for his blistering pace… could the Italian dominate at Misano?
The third round of an increasingly unpredictable 2004 World Superbike Championship is on Sunday.
In Valencia, James Toseland and Noriyuki Haga secured the first laurels of the year, with the second round in Australia providing wins for Toseland’s factory Ducati team-mate Laconi and former MotoGP star Garry McCoy.
Laconi has dominated all Superpole sessions, but his practice prowess has been converted into a race finish – albeit a win – just once. Laconi, one of the pre-season favourites, will see Misano as a chance to claw his way up the championship table.
The top of the table is headed by the more consistent points scorer Toseland, but the following pack of riders – Frankie Chili, Garry McCoy and Chris Vermeulen - are bunched up in a competitive manner, with only six points separating the top four.
In overall second place, despite some set-up problems with his new 999 Ducati, Chili has used both his 2004 and 2003 spec machines in races this year. Chili may find that Misano, his home round and a circuit where he has won a World Superbike race in the past, is the very place to take his first win of the year.
The fact that only one man in the present championship, Troy Corser, has won a race at Misano in past seasons makes pre-race predictions a difficult task indeed!
Of the other top entrants, two stand out as having been unfortunate so far this season, DFX Ducati's Steve Martin was robbed of a maiden win when his engine expired in Australia, while the Leon Haslam has yet to achieve a high finish this year.
As well as the aforementioned Ducati entries, the field also comprises several top-flight riders on competitive multi-cylinder machines, led by Vermeulen's Ten Kate Honda Fireblade.
The young Australian and his new machine have been the revelation of the season so far, taking podiums with what is a rapidly-developing motorcycle.
Martin's team-mate, Marco Borciani, has proved his abilities with an overall championship sixth place, while the top Kawasaki rider is his countryman Mauro Sanchini in ninth place overall.
The unique three-cylinder Petronas FP-1, operated by the Foggy Petronas Team, has propelled one of its two factory pilots to the podium places, as Chris Walker secured a third at Valencia. His team-mate, Troy Corser, the 1996 Champion on Ducati, will be desperate to equal or better that result, and is the only top rider in the current field to have taken wins at Misano in SBK.
Original article from Car